LYING back in his lounge room with his broken leg propped up on a pillow, 18-year-old Cody Wheatley reflects on a day which promised so much, but finished up in Shoalhaven Hospital.
The Kiama under-18s fullback has mixed feelings regarding his side's recent Group 7 Rugby League grand final win at Nowra Showground. Despite the bad break, his team belted favourites the Berry Magpies 26-10 on September 22 to take the under-18s title. His teammates made sure to include him in their celebrations.
"I injured my leg after 30 minutes trying to stop Berry prop Blaine Rosz," Wheatley said. "As I was moving in for the tackle, my teammate Cam Cornell arrived just before me and they both fell across my leg, snapping both bones in the lower leg. I heard the bones snap and a grinding sound, and knew straight away I was in trouble.
"I was told a couple of ladies in the crowd close to the sideline fainted when they heard it.
"It was a total accident and the first injury I have ever had since I started playing with the Knights at the age of six."
He paid tribute to the medical staff who assisted him on the day, saying they helped him through the ordeal.
"Blokes like Douggie [David Burge], Gazza [Garry Lee], Curly [Gary Clarke] and Frex [Phil Coleman] were right on the spot.
"Douggie in particular helped keep me calm, while other people like the Berry trainers also assisted," he said.
"Since it happened, so many people have been in touch with best wishes. One of the Berry trainers and one of their players' mums even called into the hospital to see how I was."
But his teammates were determined to ensure he didn't miss any part of the celebrations.
"Even once I got to hospital, I was getting text messages and they rang me before they did the victory song in the sheds to make sure I didn't miss out," he said.
"They then headed up to the hospital and came in two at a time with the trophy. It really helped make me feel like part of the celebrations."
The Group 7 Facebook page went into meltdown when a status update on his progress was posted the day after the game, gaining more than 200 likes and 3400 views.
However, after having a titanium rod inserted in his leg on Sunday night and mastering his crutches on Monday morning, he was told he could go home.
"I was stressing a bit about missing 'mad Monday' with the boys and thought I'd be in for at least two to three days, but in the end I was able to call in at the leagues club for awhile, which was cool.
"I'll be back bigger and better - that's for sure."